In Wildness, Preservation of the World

General / People / Places / Products / April 22, 2013

Megan Cump’s photographs are all about the unknown.

Her “Black Moon” series, on display through May 12 at Station Independent Projects in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, constructs a world that’s swallowed by darkness.

“They’re subterranean images that are metaphors for the subconscious,” she says

Full of auspicious meteor showers and subterranean passages, they transport the viewer into otherworldly places, suggesting another side to things. Stars appear to burn through the atmosphere while the evening sky fills with light and color.

Some are inhabited by wild creatures, including a fox, a ghostly white deer and a shadowy woman who, in one photograph, floats in water black as the night.  She is, in fact, the artist, who says that one could argue that all of her figures, even the animals, are enigmatic self-portraits.

“I’m drawing from Thoreau’s idea that wildness is the preservation of the world – that getting lost is a portal, a key, to our freedom,” she says.  “For me, darkness and the unknown are restorative and important in our world.”

The 14 images in the exhibition relate to each other in a kind of dialog that complement – and even complicate – one work to another.

“The relationships flicker back and forth,” she says.  “It becomes fluid, a whole – an entire world faced with night.”

In the past she says, the night imparted fundamental knowledge, serving as navigational field, timekeeper and source of cosmologies.  But that’s changed in the modern world.

“We’re losing our star map, and this is a way to look into ourselves,” she says.  “I want people to build their own narratives, and I hope it transports them.”

Here, she draws on primitive myths to help us conceptualize our world.

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Mike Welton

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